Staff Profile: Ryan Deska

ryan-deska-31.What is your role in the Regional Economic Development Branch? 

As one of the Economic Development Specialists in REDB, it is my role to develop and support the delivery of REDB programs and services with our regional advisors.

2.What initiatives or projects are you currently working on?

I am currently working  on the development of the Agriculture as an Economic Development Opportunity resource. This resource will help municipal Economic Development Officer’s, Councils and community leaders  better understand the opportunity agriculture can play when planning economic development initiatives. The resource can be used as a guide to undertaking initiatives with their local agriculture sector.

I’m also the  lead contact for the Community Immigrant Retention in Rural Ontario (CIRRO) and the Newcomer and Youth Community Indicators (NYCI) tools. I am also working with my colleague Vicki Lass, the regional advisor for  Perth and Huron Counties, in the implementation of OMAFRA’s Train-the-Trainer Strategic Planning program. This initiative focuses  on youth attraction and retention in Perth County, with an emphasis on building community capacity for strategic planning. Data generated through the NYCI tool is useful when communicating the issue of youth out-migration to municipal councils  and will be  used during community-led strategic planning sessions.

3.What do you most like about the work you do?

I really enjoy drawing new connections between people, ideas and/or concepts – identifying where there are mutual interests and where there are opportunities to work together. While I am still new to the work, I have been fortunate to have seen some of these ideas come to fruition already and this is one of the things that excites me about community economic development work.

4.Professional background or How did you become involved with Economic Development?

I have been interested in learning about the impacts of various industries on our society, economy and environment for a long time. From the ghost towns of the gold rush, to boom of the oil patch, to our ever-changing agricultural communities; it is fascinating to see the kinds of impacts our economies have on our communities and vice-versa. This is one of the early reasons I came to see economic development as such an interesting profession. I have a MSc in Rural Planning and Development from the University of Guelph, where my research focused on various factors that helped or hindered interjurisdictional collaboration in rural regional economic development. I have led applied research and public communications initiatives through the Rural Ontario Institute,  organized music festivals,  worked one on one with small businesses to grow their markets, and have organized and delivered national conferences for a national industry association.

There are a wide variety of actions we can take to help strengthen communities and grow economies. I look forward to the opportunity to serve OMAFRA clients in new and innovative ways. At the end of the day, I believe that the people, in any business, community or organization, are most important to fostering success. From what I have seen to date, the people in REDB, OMAFRA and the communities and organizations we work with, are second to none.

5.How do people contact you?

Ryan Deska
(519) 837-6396


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